Faculty Profile – Professor in Entrepreneurship
“Entrepreneurs can change the world,” said Rohny Saylors, associate professor of entrepreneurship. “What they need is the humility to recognize they need a group of people to help them along the way.”
Saylors has been teaching entrepreneurship in the Carson College of Business for four years. Born and raised in south Texas, he came from humble beginnings. “I’m the first one in my family to get a high school diploma,” said Saylors, adding that his background helps him better connect with his students. “When I explain my poor upbringing to my class, it’s an instant connection of trust. They think, ‘Hey, if he can do it, so can I.’”
Saylors graduated from high school and pursued an undergraduate degree in information systems from the University of Texas—Pan American in Edinburg (now part of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley). It was there where he began to shape his future.
A born entrepreneur, Saylors started a computer business, Pi Computer Systems, which manufactured PC hardware and leased it to municipalities, nonprofits and for-profit firms. After realizing he was working twice as long for half the pay, he dissolved the business and went back to school in pursuit of his MBA.
During his master’s program, he launched his second startup venture, Ramsey, Inc., which provided document digitization and data storage. The company was big enough that Saylors was able to employ 12 others. However, within 18 months, a larger competitor began providing a similar product at an unbeatable price.
Saylors turned back to education. “I decided to pursue my doctorate, which would allow me to live a life of perpetual learning focused on the human side of business,” he said. So, in 2007, he closed his business in pursuit of his Ph.D.
The rest is history. Today, Saylors researches entrepreneurial storytelling and the relationship between socioeconomic strata and how entrepreneurship can help those navigating the American dream. “Entrepreneurship helps people who need it most,” he said. “It is a path for people who feel marginalized to find their way into the economic system.” He’s referring to veterans, homeless people and others looking to startup ventures to climb out of economic hardships. Saylors believes that respecting each individual’s way of being in the world and way of seeing things is essential to having the entrepreneurial insight, and he works hard to instill that philosophy in his students.
From learning how to recognize failure to admitting you need help along the way, Saylors is using his entrepreneurial mindset to teach to the future. “People are seeking jobs that they enjoy,’ he said. “It’s not about money anymore. That’s what WSU does for their students. We enable people to follow their passion through the entrepreneurship degree.”
Originally published in Carson College of Business newsletter, Cougar Tracks